Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Vamos Patos!

The Ducks have a one game lead in their series against the Detroit Redwings after tonight's win, largely due to the fantastic goalkeeping of Jonas Hiller.

Both teams were scoreless for the first half of the first period, when Teemu Selanne got a breakaway to backhand the puck in behind Detroit goalie, Chris Osgood to put the Ducks ahead by one. Scott Niedermeyer extended their lead midway through the second period on a powerplay goal.

Detroit's only tally came later in the second off a powerplay rebound shot by Henrik Zetterberg. Scott Niedermeyer had earned the penalty a minute earlier for hooking.

Both teams had plenty of powerplay opportunity, with 7 penalties awarded to the Ducks and 6 called on the Redwings. However, nothing was called on the elbow to James Wisnewski's face midway through the second. Tomas Holstrom committed the penalty immediately after Wisnewski took a puck to the chest. With the wind knocked out of him and blood spurting from his face, Wisnewski vomited and collapsed on the ice, requiring a stretcher to retrieve him and take him to UCI, where it was discovered he had a bruised lung. It is unknown whether or not he will return to the playoffs after such a devastating injury.

The loss of Wisnewski seemed to take a toll on the Ducks. Less than a minute later, Detroit player Mikael Samuelsson's rebound bounces to Zetterberg who scores, cutting the Duck's lead in half.

A one goal lead with over 30 minutes to play doesn't leave much room for mistakes. The Ducks lost control of the puck and for a few heart-stopping seconds it slid across the goal crease. One of the referees called the play dead, assuming the puck was under a sprawled-out Hiller. Marian Hossa and Chris Pronger simotaneously saw that it wasn't captured under Hiller and dove for it, sending the puck into the goal.

The players were left to skate around as the referees discussed the potentially premature whistle that stopped the play before the puck was shoved through. When the referees called for the game to continue without giving Detroit the goal, the Ducks heaved sighs of relief and rightly so.

Their last game had gone into triple overtime after a tying goal by Johan Franzen early in the second period. Both teams remained scoreless till Todd Marchant ended the game with a goal early in the third overtime (or the sixth period, depending on your perspective). Trivia: the longest hockey game ever had 6 overtime periods between Detroit and Montreal in 1936, total game time= 176 minutes.

After the non-goal, the Ducks struggled to keep control of their lead after Detroit pulled Osgood to give their offense an extra attacker. Hiller stopped 18 shots in the last period alone to keep the Ducks ahead for the win.

Hiller had a total of 45 saves tonight. He's stopped 138 out of 145 shots in this series and has a total of 368 saves out of 375 attempts in this postseason. Without question, he's been the deciding factor in many of these postseason games.

The Ducks next play Detroit in game four of the series on Thursday at the Honda Center at 7:30pm.

Vamos Patos! (In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I've translated the typical sign-off into spanish. I'm feeling festive.)

No comments: